Fri, 30 Oct 2020

By Oliver Trust and Liu Yang

BERLIN, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese market plays a vital role in Schalke 04's attempt to create a prosperous future after last season's setbacks, both on the pitch and financially.

"China is the most important market for us internationally," Alexander Jobst told Xinhua in a recent interview. The member of the board for marketing, sales, and organization at the German top tier club said they intend to create a new generation of Royal Blues fans in China over the next years.

The 46-year-old talked about the efforts to, in the future, find talented young Chinese players to join the club in the Rhine-Ruhr-region.

"But we don't want it only to be a marketing measure but hope we can add quality to our squad," Jobst told Xinhua. "We want any future player to be a regular in our first team."

Jobst spoke about the intense efforts to prepare one of Germany's most prominent clubs for the future and join Europe's top sides over the next years.

Plans about the club's structure will be made in close contact with its 160,000 members who have to vote on any significant changes within the club.

The outsourcing of the professional section can only be one option.

"Depending on the future direction about the club's sporting and economic ambition, we could only consider working with partners who definitely have proof a connection to the club's identity," Jobst underlined.

To survive the club's crisis, Schalke turned to wage cuts, part-time work for employees, and a 30 to 40-million-euro loan from the federal state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

Contrary to other German clubs, Schalke's approach is to provide grassroots help for Chinese football.

"We want to sustainably help China on its way to becoming a successful football nation. It's not a sprint but a long-distance race," Jobst emphasized. "An increased market share comes with the effort," he added.

The seven-time German Champions (last in 1958) and five-time cup winners (last in 2011) boasts one of Europe's most successful academies.

The so-called "Knappenschmiede," Schalke's academy, has developed several of Germany's best players such as Leroy Sane and Manuel Neuer.

The club is one of the brand leaders regarding teaching and coaching methods, mentality, and football competence, Jobst emphasized. "Our contribution is not only playing friendlies in China, but close collaboration with the association, clubs, and schools."

KPMG recently rated Schalke among the 15 most valuable clubs (814 million euros) worldwide.

"Schalke is traditionally a strong brand and is said to have high earning power," Jobst said, adding the goal is to return to European competitions.

"We have made some mistakes in the past. Therefore, we need to make up for financial losses and revitalize our special connection to our fans," Jobst said. Before talking about its future structure, "We need to set up a concept all our fans can identify with."

No other club in Germany stands for a similar dedication to its fans, with keywords such as loyalty, identification, and history at the forefront of his mind.

"Schalke never will be a boring club as emotions have always played a vital role. It makes Schalke unique in football."

Jobst said no other German club has been missing its fans like Schalke. "A highly charged atmosphere in our arena is part of our identity. For Schalke, it is always together with its members and fans."

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